Jack Clements: Left-Handed Catcher

June 14, 2013 § Leave a comment


19th-century baseball player Jack Clements, who played for the Philadephia Quakers/Phillies for mot of his career

Catcher Jack Clements, c 1880s (NY Public Library, A.G. Spalding Collection)

Jack Clements played from 1884-1900, and is regarded as being the last left-hander to catch regularly, as well as the first to wear a chest protector. I hope he also — at least eventually — wore a glove. According to this excellent overview of the history of the baseball mitt, the first confirmed use of a glove was in 1875, and by the 1890s wearing one was the norm.

When Clements passed away in 1941, his obituary in the New York Times read in its entirety: “NORRISTOWN, PA., May 24 (AP) — Jack Clements, former left-handed catcher who played with the Phillies, St. Louis Nationals and Cleveland Spiders in the Eighteen Nineties, died yesterday after an illness of six weeks. His age was 76.”

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George Pinkney, Ironman

June 8, 2013 § 3 Comments


19th-century major league baseball player George Pinckney swings at a ball

George Pinkney by Gilbert & Bacon, Philadelphia, c 1880s (New York Public Library)

George Pinkney played major league baseball from 1884 to 1893, for teams such as the Cleveland Blues, Brooklyn Grays/Bridegrooms/Trolley Dodgers and the Louisville Colonels. He is the player whose record for most consecutive innings played (5,152, from 1885-1890) was broken by Cal Ripkin, Jr. in 1985. (Note that this was a different statistic than the consecutive-games record Ripkin set when he bested Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 in 1995.) Interestingly, I have seen Pinkney listed as both a left- and right-handed hitter in different places (but not a switch hitter) — perhaps explaining (or explained by?) the photos from each side of the plate?

Vintage cabinet card photo of early major leaguer George Pinckney

George Pinkney shown batting from the left side of the plate in this circa 1880s cabinet card

C.M. Gilbert and William Bacon were well-known photographers in Philadelphia beginning in the 1870s; their studio was located at 830 Arch Street, with a second (from 1886) at 1030 Chestnut Street.

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